Climate Action Areas
In sectors across British Columbia, decisive action is being taken to address climate change.
B.C. remains committed to reducing emissions to 80% below 2007 levels by 2050, and recognizes more work needs to be done. Across the province, we’re taking cross-sector action, including carbon pricing, adaptation planning and international collaboration. In addition, we’re taking sector-specific action to reduce emissions and build a more resilient, low-carbon economy for B.C.
The information below is a brief summary of sector-specific climate action taken to date.
Accounting for approximately 39% of B.C.’s total emissions, transportation is an area in which climate action can have a major impact in B.C.
Cycling infrastructure – Through the BikeBC program, the provincial government cost-shares cycling infrastructure projects with local governments to make biking a safer and more convenient option for commuters. Since 2001, the Government of British Columbia has invested more than $230 million in cycling grants and infrastructure projects throughout the province. In 2017, the BikeBC program committed $9.25 million for 26 projects in 26 communities.
Public transit – B.C.'s 10-year transportation plan commits to share the funding of the cost of new rapid transit projects. Linking the communities of Burnaby, Port Moody and Coquitlam with Vancouver, the new Evergreen line makes SkyTrain the longest rapid transit system of its kind in Canada. The plan also helps expand B.C.’s fleet of clean compressed natural gas buses. The Province recently announced that it will match the federal government’s $2.2 billion investment in the capital costs of new transit projects in Metro Vancouver over the next 11 years, helping to create more transit-friendly communities. In addition, the province has committed to match the federal commitment of approximately $500 million for BC Transit capital projects.
Zero-emission vehicles – Clean Energy Vehicle Program provides incentives to encourage and accelerate the adoption of clean energy vehicles (CEVs) including zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). The program provides financial incentives for British Columbians who choose a qualifying electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, and makes investments in charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure. The Province has committed more than $72 million to the program since 2011, including the current program budget of $40 million. In 2018, approximately 6,000 direct incentives toward ZEVs will have been dispersed, and with support from complementary initiatives (e.g. SCRAP-IT, Plug In BC), British Columbian roads boast over 10,000 ZEVs, 1,300 charging stations including 64 DC fast chargers, a hydrogen fueling station, and 10 research and academic curriculum projects.
HOV lanes – High occupancy vehicle or HOV lanes in B.C. are open to all electric vehicles displaying an official decal, regardless of the number of passengers in the car.
Low carbon fuel standard – B.C.’s low carbon fuel standard is significantly reducing emissions – by 6 million tonnes between 2010 and 2016. Fuel suppliers must progressively decrease the average carbon intensity of their fuels to achieve a 10% reduction in 2020 relative to 2010 levels.
Fuel switching – The conversion of heavy-duty vehicles and buses to compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) has decreased emissions in commercial operations. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Clean Energy) Regulation allows B.C. utilities to invest in clean transportation and infrastructure by, for example, providing incentives to convert commercial fleets from higher-emitting diesel. To date, the regulation has lowered emissions by 75,000 tonnes. These programs are funded by the utility.
Weigh2GoBC – Weigh2GoBC allows commercial vehicles to bypass inspection stations using a network of Weigh-in-Motion and Automatic Vehicle Identification Transponder technologies. This provides savings in fuel use and reduces GHG emissions and costs. It is estimated that each bypass saves a commercial vehicle 0.6 L of fuel. Since the program’s inception in 2009, over 1.6 million bypasses have saved over 2,500 tonnes of CO2e.
Renewable natural gas incentives – British Columbia is the only jurisdiction in North America to have a utility program for RNG. Since RNG can be used interchangeably for natural gas, the related GHG emissions reductions are significant. Recent enabling amendments to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation will allow utilities to expand incentives for use of RNG so that eligible customers could double their incentives if they commit to running their vehicles on 100% RNG.
Marine bunkering centre – Recent amendments to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation will also enable utilities to increase incentives to stimulate the use of LNG to fuel large marine vessels – thereby helping to establish B.C. as a global marine bunkering centre on the west coast. Converting just one deep sea vessel to run on LNG instead of heavy fuel oil could reduce GHG emissions by about 93,500 tonnes per year.
Electric shore power – The ports of Prince Rupert and Vancouver provide electrical power from shore to container ships, allowing vessels to power down their auxiliary diesel engines while at the terminal. In Prince Rupert – the first port in Canada to offer shore power – this reduces GHG emissions by an estimated 4,000 tonnes annually.
Clean dual propulsion systems allow BC Ferries’ three newest vessels to run on either liquefied natural gas or ultra-low sulphur diesel. The upcoming conversion of the company’s two largest existing vessels to this same system will reduce their carbon emissions by about 25%.
Adaptation – B.C. is looking forward – making plans to help ensure that our roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure will withstand extreme weather events and adapt smoothly to future climate conditions.
From the way we construct buildings and design communities to the way we manage waste, B.C.’s built environment is a crucial area for climate action. Including buildings, land use change and waste, the built environment accounts for 22% of B.C.’s total emissions.
Climate Action Charter – As signatories to B.C.’s Climate Action Charter, 187 local governments – 98% of the province’s total – have committed to measuring and reporting their community’s GHG emissions, creating more energy efficient communities and working towards carbon neutrality. To help support their efforts, grants – equal to the carbon taxes paid directly – are available under the associated Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program. In 2015, almost 30% of B.C. local governments achieved carbon neutrality. Working groups are in place to refresh climate action under the Charter.
BC Building Code – The BC Building Code's increasing requirements for energy conservation are leading to ongoing emission reductions. In 2013, more rigorous requirements for large residential, commercial and industrial buildings were implemented. In 2014, more stringent energy-efficiency requirements for houses and small buildings were introduced. In 2015, energy efficiency requirements for ventilation and secondary suites were implemented and in April 2017, B.C. introduced the performance-based BC Energy Step Code.
BC Energy Step Code – The Province has committed to taking incremental steps to increase energy-efficiency requirements in the BC Building Code to make new buildings net-zero energy ready by 2032. The BC Energy Step Code provides an incremental and consistent approach to achieving more energy efficient buildings that goes beyond the requirements of the base BC Building Code. The BC Energy Step Code is currently a voluntary standard that builders across B.C. can use. Local governments may also choose to adopt the BC Energy Step Code in bylaws and policies.
Landfill Gas Management – B.C.’s Landfill Gas Management Regulation phases in requirements for landfill gas capture to reduce methane emissions and optimize gas recovery. Landfills generating 1,000 tonnes or more of methane are required to install landfill gas management systems.
Energy efficiency programs – BC Hydro and FortisBC have home renovation rebates to help fund residential efficiency upgrades such as draft-proofing, natural gas water heaters, heat pumps and insulation.
Community Energy Leadership Program – The Community Energy Leadership Program (CELP) was established in 2015 to support local government and First Nations investments in energy efficiency and clean energy projects. Projects include the City of Nelson’s central solar system, which is owned by community members, managed by the city’s municipal power utility and the first of its kind in Canada. In CELP’s first two calls for projects, the program supported 14 community projects valued at approximately $11 million.
Adaptation – The province is supporting local governments as they adapt to a changing climate.
B.C. industry creates thousands of good jobs but is a large-scale user of energy, accounting for about 20% of the province’s emissions. Effective climate action in industrial sectors can have a significant impact.
Carbon tax – B.C.’s carbon tax applies to between 65-70% of industrial emissions, making it a significant driver of reduction and innovation. The carbon tax influences long term investment decisions. For example, several new and existing natural gas plants in northeast B.C. have opted to electrify with clean grid electricity.
Clean electricity – B.C.’s Clean Energy Act currently requires that at least 93% of electricity generated in British Columbia for the integrated grid be from clean or renewable sources. BC Hydro currently exceeds this requirement at 98% clean electricity.
Efficient electrification – The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation (GGRR) enables utilities, such as BC Hydro and FortisBC, to offer incentives for transitioning to clean electricity. BC Hydro’s current demand management programs already support improved energy efficiency.
Clean technology is one of five subsectors represented in the #BCTECH Strategy. The more than 200 clean-tech companies in B.C. provide 6,400 jobs and produce $1.6 billion in annual revenue.
Bioenergy – The government is reinvigorating the bioenergy cluster in B.C. to support greater investment and innovation in bioenergy, renewable biofuel projects, and new technologies. The province works closely with the BC Bioenergy Network (BCBN), which is a non-profit organization committed to leveraging the sector's programs and activities across the value chain of industry, scientific knowledge and government policy.
Hydrogen – B.C. is recognized as a global leader in hydrogen and fuel cell research and development. The province also has one of the cleanest power grids in the world which is ideal for hydrogen generation. Hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier that can store renewable energy, power clean transportation and the transition to a clean, low-carbon energy future.
Innovation and Clean Energy – The Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund supports new clean energy technologies. From 2008-2017, the fund approved approximately $100 million for more than 70 projects. Recent investments include Carbon Engineering’s first synthetic fuels demonstration plant in Squamish, which captures and uses carbon dioxide directly from the air to enable production of ultra-low carbon fuels. Under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, British Columbia and the Government of Canada have agreed to work together to spur the development and commercialization of new technologies that will reduce emissions and create jobs for Canadians. A $40-million partnership to support the development of pre-commercial clean-energy projects and technologies was announced in 2017. The $20-million provincial contribution comes from the ICE Fund. The federal contribution is provided through the SD Tech Fund, managed by Sustainable Development Technology Canada.
First Nations and Business – The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund has, since its creation in 2010, helped more than 110 First Nations communities pursue renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. These include the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations Haa-ak-suuk run-of-river project and the Sci'anew (Cheanuh) Beecher Bay Band’s project that harnesses thermal energy from the ocean to heat homes. The approximate $8 million in funding to date has also attracted additional First Nations investment. The province is increasing funding by about $2.1 million over three years with a priority for remote communities currently dependent on diesel generation to transition to a clean energy supply.
Cement-industry incentives – Cement production is an energy-intensive process that uses large amounts of GHG-intensive fossil fuels including coal. In 2015/16, the Ministry of Environment launched an incentive program, providing $27 million over five years, which supports increasing the use of low-carbon fuels to displace coal, and reducing GHG emissions from cement manufacturing as much as possible. In order to receive funding, recipients of the program must undertake infrastructure improvements, establish supply contracts for low carbon fuels, and meet an emission intensity benchmark that steps down each year. Achieving the final benchmark will make B.C.’s cement plants among the cleanest in the world.
Methane emissions reductions – B.C. is developing new rules to reduce fugitive and vented methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, in line with federal regulations that aim to reduce these emissions by 45% across the country by 2025. B.C.’s Clean Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program is an incentive program to support the use of clean technologies that reduce GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector. The program offers royalty deductions of up to 50% of the cost of clean infrastructure such as solar pumps.
Venting and Flaring Reduction Guideline – The elimination of routine flaring at oil and gas wells and production facilities means the avoidance of significant GHG emissions each year.
An effective provincial approach to climate action depends on positioning B.C.’s foundational sectors for the emerging low-carbon economy.
Forest Carbon – B.C.’s Forest Carbon Initiative is using a portfolio approach to enhance the carbon capacity of B.C.’s forests with the rehabilitation of wildfire and mountain pine beetle sites, increased planting density, increased use of residual wood, and changed forestry practices.
Wood construction – B.C.’s Wood First Initiative encourages the innovative use of wood in buildings. For example, it has led to increased use of sustainable products like mass timber, a product with powerful structural properties but a much smaller carbon footprint than steel or concrete. Together with new codes that increase the maximum height for wood-framed residences, Wood First is increasing climate-friendly construction while growing markets for B.C. value-added forest products and innovative wood construction technologies.
Offset projects – The B.C. Forest Carbon Offset Protocol was key to the development of B.C.’s carbon offset industry. In 2014, forestry offset projects removed 1.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, creating jobs and unlocking new revenue streams for communities, First Nations, forest companies and private land owners. The protection of the Great Bear Rainforest was enabled through the Forest Carbon Offset Protocol.
Adapting our Forests – Adapting B.C.’s natural resources to a changing climate is important for maintaining the benefits these resources provide to communities and industries in the province. A 2015-2020 Climate Change Strategy for natural resource governance integrates climate change into program areas, operations, resource management decisions and actions.
Building farm-level resilience – The Environmental Farm Plan Program helps producers find opportunities to decrease on-farm emissions and reduce climate risks by adopting beneficial management practices that enhance soil health, promote stewardship of riparian areas, advance integrated pest management, and increase energy efficiency. Cost-share funding is available for producers to invest in on-farm projects such as fuel switching, renewable natural gas, and upgraded irrigation systems. The Farm Adaptation Innovator Program (FAIP) supports applied research and knowledge sharing regarding climate resilient farm practices related to soil, water, crop, and livestock management.
Nutrient Management – Nutrient management programming is being expanded to include greater cost-share funding to support producers in implementing on-farm practices that optimize fertilizer and manure use, which could reduce GHG emissions by up to 100,000 tonnes annually.
Adaptation for Agriculture – Together, the Province, the agriculture industry, local governments and other partners are increasing agriculture’s ability to adapt to climate change through the B.C. Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative. Building on climate impact assessments, six important agricultural regions are proceeding to implement adaptation strategies developed through the collaboration. These regions include Cowichan, Delta, the Peace, the Cariboo, the Fraser Valley, and the Okanagan.
From schools to health care services, B.C.’s public sector extends to almost every community in the province. Public sector organizations are ideally positioned to serve as catalysts for climate action across B.C.
Carbon neutral government – Each year since 2010, B.C. has achieved carbon neutral operations, maintaining a net impact of zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its entire provincial public sector including health authorities, school districts, universities, colleges, institutes, Crown corporations and government offices. B.C.’s carbon neutral commitment is a significant first in North America – one that’s reducing emissions, spurring clean technologies and saving energy costs.
Offset Portfolio – B.C.'s Offset Portfolio – to support government's carbon neutral operations – has stimulated investments in greener production in the agriculture, lumber, pulp and paper, cement and oil and gas sectors from fuel switching and from equipment efficiency upgrades.
Public sector buildings – Buildings account for almost 77% of B.C.’s provincial public sector emissions. Through its commitment to low-impact infrastructure, British Columbia’s public sector is leading by example. LEED Gold certification or equivalent must be met by all new provincial public sector buildings. This has raised the bar on construction standards across B.C., home to 30% of all new construction projects certified either LEED Gold and Platinum in Canada since 2007. Going forward, emission reduction efforts will be expanded to increase the use of low-carbon and renewable materials – such as B.C. wood and Portland-limestone cement – in new public sector infrastructure.